Walking

Dunster Castle, near Minehead

Nestled amongst woodland and on an escarpment overlooking Exmoor, the Quantock Hills and out towards the Bristol channel, a castle has existed on this site since the Norman times and moved from battle-ready fortress to comfortable 19th century homestead.

From its timber beginnings back in the times of William the Conqueror, through to its medieval stone construction and Jacobean mansion add-ons, Dunster has a rich and varied history, yet has had just one family living in it since 1376. However, the family have worked considerably to redesign it transforming it from the medieval fort it was to become a comfortable family home, most notably in 1868 when it was thoroughly redesigned in keeping with Victorian ideals but keeping its incredible character.

Inside, you’ll find a rich selection of rooms to explore filled with many artefacts, with the Leather Hangings, depicting the love story of Anthony and Cleopatra, being of incredible worth as the only example of its kind within the UK.

The grounds and gardens are just as stunning as the castle, with paths that wind up to the Keep Garden. With over 100 years of planning you can find the attractive South Terrace which is planted in the Victorian style with a touch of the sub-tropical, due to its microclimate, plus incredible views. There's also a circular walk, pet cemetery and gorgeous views to be had.

Also of note is the fantastic underground reservoir, a feat of Victorian engineering bringing water uphill to be contained for the castles' private use. Further down you’ll find the River Garden, again with its own microclimate famed for its giant rhubarb, Handkerchief Tree and magnolias.

Equestrians and horse-lovers will be fascinated by the stables which date back to the early 17th century and are some of the oldest owned by The National Trust. Incredibly important back in the medieval times, during later years it was only used when polo matches were held for visiting dignitaries.

Another point of interest is the working watermill, which has been recently restored. With the original mill dating back to the medieval times, milling has been an integral part of Dunster Castle and today it has milled over 18 tonnes of organic, wholemeal flour – which you can buy in the mill and in the shop.

There’s a National Trust shop to pick up local goodies plus two tearooms on site - one by the castle and the other by the watermill. Dogs are welcome throughout the gardens and grounds on a lead except in the Castle and tea room.

Dunster Castle is situated in an elevated position so as such has steep slopes and many steps to consider if you have limited ability.

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Exmoor here and in Somerset here.

Dunster, near Minehead, Somerset TA24 S6L | 01643 821 314 | https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunster-castle

Ssshhh... don't tell anyone

We can let you know about our newest retreats, exclusive offers, featured luxury properties and what's on. Just let us know your email address and we’ll keep you in the loop.